Golfers with a new Apple Watch can rejoice at how far golf apps have come in 2021 for the popular all-in-one wearable.
We will take a look at the best free and paid golf apps for an Apple Watch, evaluating what they are doing well and where they can improve.
Apple Watch golf apps now have the capability to offer virtual caddie and strokes gained statistics that can be linked with all your other devices.
There is still some progress to be made versus phone apps and specialized golf watches, but there is no denying that Apple Watches are quickly improving.
Anyone purchasing the latest Apple Watch Series 7 will find that it is getting closer to offering everything a golfer needs in one watch.
These are the Best Apple Watch Golf Apps in 2021:
Hole19 – Free to $50/year
Free app for golfers that just want GPS on their Apple Watch
Sometimes all golfers want from their golf app is to let their Apple Watch tell them the distance to green, which is where the Hole19 app comes in.
There is a paid-for version of Hole19, but the free version offers all the functionality required to get accurate distance measurements and includes over 43,000 golf courses.
You will automatically get the yardage to the front, middle and back of the green. Plus, you can easily zoom in on your hole to find out the distance to hazards or landing zones.
You can also record your scores through your Apple Watch on the free version as well. This will be an added bonus for golfers that like to easily keep record of their scores whilst playing.
If you want to upgrade to the paid version then Hole19 offers some pretty cool features, including an augmented reality experience, shot tracker and club recommendations.
- Cleanest user experience for a free watch GPS.
- Phone app is equally simple to use and has a nice hole overview interface.
- Simple scoring and basic stats can be recorded and shared with friends with free version, but only using your phone.
- If you want to try out a virtual caddie and detailed shot tracking Hole19 is cheaper than other apps on the market.
- Hole19 shines with its free version, but there are premium apps with more advanced technology on this list.
- Watch scoring and hole auto-switch are only available in premium version.
SwingU – Free to $99/year
For golfers that want their golf app to improve their scores
If you are looking for a golf app that can help you shoot lower scores, then you are going to love the AI-powered digital caddie and personalized coaching instruction that comes with the premium version of the SwingU app.
The virtual caddie can give you real-time plays like distances taking into account wind and elevation, which is also accounted for when you track your shots for accurate club recommendations.
SwingU is one of the best one-on-one golf instruction apps, you also get a library of over 500 drills and lessons and strokes gained information helps you understand your game.
There is a free version of the app compatible with your Apple Watch too. This offers GPS measurements and is compatible with any golf course in the world. You can also track your scoring statistics and the app will automatically advance to the next hole.
- Free version comes with decent amount of features for the casual golfer.
- Strokes gained statistics will provide incredibly useful insight into your game.
- Huge library of lessons and drills available to improve your game.
- Good value for money given the technology and level of coaching available.
- Shot tracker requires you to keep remembering to tap your watch.
18Birdies – Free to $100/year
Solid free GPS with fun additional features on your phone
The 18Birdies app has a good free version with Apple Watch compatibility that has GPS, allows you to track your scoring statistics, and automatically switches holes.
Where the 18Birdies app excels is the additional free features on the phone app that include the social feed and tournaments games.
If you are a sociable golfer that likes to share your golfing content and arrange golf tournaments with your friends then 18Birdies is an excellent choice.
Keen golfers will be interested in the Caddy+ feature available in the premium version of the app. Here you can get actual distance measurements based on conditions, use shot tracking for club recommendations and get more advanced statistics.
The premium version also has some helpful tips to improve your golf such as an AI coach, a tee shot planner and a blind shot compass.
- Good amount of free features.
- Lots of fun side games that will be ideal for golfers that like a bet with their golfing pals.
- Premium version makes scoring and statistics easy to track.
- The phone app is easy to use and all the features a recreational golfer would need.
- Watch GPS interface quite cramped and not as nice as Hole19.
- Currently the Apple Watch version of the app lags behind the terrific user experience of the phone app.
V1 Game – Free to $120/year
The most complete premium app with Apple Watch compatibility
A relatively new addition to the crowded golf app market, the V1 Game is already arguably one of the best golf apps available.
The free version has a GPS tracker with an easy-to-use watch display and some basic shot tracking capability, but it is the premium versions where the V1 Game app really stands out.
The V1 Game app combines the best of all the golf apps on the market with a virtual caddie, detailed strokes gained statistics and virtual coaching (similar to the SwingU app).
Where the app is different is its AI Breadcrumb Auto-Shot technology. The app detects when you play a shot and vibrates to remind you to input what club you hit, but even if you do not remember to update the app with information at the time it will predict where you hit all of your shots from for inputting post-round.
This is an app that will be perfect for a serious golfer and having an Apple Watch definitely enhances the accuracy and detail.
- Statistics are detailed and insightful enough to rival Arccos, which is impressive.
- Putting data is easier to gather and get feedback from (also see cons).
- Innovative AI Breadcrumb Auto-Shot technology is probably the future direction all smartwatch golf apps will take to make data recording simpler.
- Virtual Coach and Virtual Caddie features perform as well as any other golf app.
- This is an advanced app that requires a learning curve to get the most from it.
- Exact pin locations not set so your approach shot distance data may be a tad off.
Arccos Caddie – $99/year subscription
For Arccos Caddie Link or Smart Grip users
Arccos have been the market leaders when it comes to golf tracking data and in 2021 they released an all-new updated smart watch app compatible with the Apple Watch 6 and SE among others.
If you are already a subscriber to Arccos for their Caddie App or Caddie Link device then the watch app will be a worthy addition to keep your phone away whilst you are playing.
The new Arccos watch app features shot detection to automatically record all your shots (similar to the V1 Game app) and you can edit and record all your shots through the watch.
You also get real-time Virtual Caddie information straight to the watch display. This allows you to get GPS green yardages, an adjusted yardage and a suggested club all on one clear display.
To make the most of the watch display, inputting pin locations through your phone or Caddie Link is necessary, but fans of Arccos will be used to this.
- Golf buffs that love analyzing data should stick with Arccos for the most accurate result.
- Perfect for golfers that already have Arccos Caddie Link or Smart Grips.
- Apple Watch interface with Virtual Caddie is a simple and smart display.
- Shot detection capabilities are a big positive.
- You must subscribe annually to Arccos Caddie.
- Need to love spending time inputting and analyzing data to get the most from Arccos.